Sunday, March 30, 2014

Golden Triangle Excursion

Ok, I suppose being a blogger is not my calling.  My apologies for delays in posting. Time seems to pass too quickly.  Here we are at the end of March!  I wanted to briefly show my trip to the Golden Triangle, a lovely (and warm!) weekend to the border of Thailand! A large group of us went along with some of our teachers who guided us and provided history lectures throughout the trip.  The Golden Triangle is where Thailand, Laos and Burma meet along the Mekong River.  The area has a large history of producing opium, but today produces tea!  Along the way, we stopped in Chiang Rai, to visit Wat Rong Khun, also known as the White Temple, a relatively new temple (1997) created by artist Chalermchai Kositpipat.  The temple was amazing, it had so much detail in the art from passing through a bridge over hell to the mural inside the temple which included many familiar popular characters painted on the back, including Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley!  Not something I see in most temples!  There was a gallery of some of his impressive work within the same complex.


After a quick lunch we were off to an NGO called The Sold Project. An organization dedicated to helping prevent children from entering the prostitution industry. We learned about what a typical day at the center was like, and what services they offer, such as mentoring, education for children on a variety of topics and providing scholarships for children to attend school.  They are also involved with each child in their home life and offer a safe, fun place for the children to hang out at after school.  I was moved by their passion for helping children - it is clearly a wonderful organization.

I must admit that one of my favorite parts about the trip included the hours spent driving to our destinations.  However, some of my peers do not share the same sentiment.  Many people had motion sickness as the drive was up and down over hills and hills of countryside.  I do not get motion sickness and enjoyed the winding empty roads.  It was nice to stop and stretch our legs though!  We made a stop to some of the barracks of Khun Sa, a Burmese warlord who formed his own army and headed the largest opium production in the world from the 1970s to the 1990s.  It was definitely  interesting to learn about the history in this area while being there! We made a visit to the Hall of Opium which is a $5 Million dollar museum about the history of opium and narcotics to present day.  It was very sad to see how narcotics have ripped through the lives of so many people throughout the years and I found myself very emotional. We ended the day at a tea plantation that was once an opium plantation.  Opium is not grown nearly as much in the area, instead tea has become a product that is distributed throughout the world.  We were able to have a taste of different teas and take in the breathtaking views while reflecting on the history of the region.

We made it to the Golden Triangle! Had my first view of the Mekong River and bordering countries! We stopped by a temple, settled into our hotel and made our way by boat to Laos, for a quick visit to a market.  There was no official border to pass, so although I can say I have technically been to Laos, I do not have a stamp in my passport.  I hope to make a trip back to Laos before I leave though.  I do have a stamp in my passport from Burma, also known as Myanmar.  I crossed for about two hours, to visit a few breathtaking temples and to get a new visa stamp. Burma surprisingly had a different feel from Thailand even though I was only a few minutes away.  In my classes we have been learning about the history of Burma, the Saffron Revolution and how Burma is beginning to open up to relationships around the world.  It would be incredible to visit Yangoon and the temples in Burma. I really enjoyed the Mekong River, and we learned about the dams scheduled to be built (mostly by China, who is not apart of the Mekong River Commission) and the impact dams have on the river ecology as well as the local economies who depend on a healthy Mekong.  It is truly a beautiful area and I hope to visit again before I leave Southeast Asia!


Thailand from Laos
Entering Burma!

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you, would love those winding roads to explore country side! A trip you'll remember for a life time. That White Temple is just beautiful.